My 3 Spring Virtual Conference Goals

By Andrew Koch

Andrew shares three of his Spring Virtual Conference goals for the upcoming event.

Over here at Family Tree, we’re all pretty excited for next month’s Spring Virtual Conference. And while I’m looking forward to meeting other researchers and talking genealogy, I’m also counting down the days for selfish reasons—I’ve got research questions, and the presenters at our Virtual Conference have answers! Here are three of my Spring Virtual Conference goals—and how I think the presentations will help with them.

Dive into Findmypast

As I’ve discussed before, I’m somewhat obsessed with my Irish ancestry. That’s why I want to spend more time researching my Carrigan line and its Emerald Isle roots.  Findmypast (one of the “big four” genealogy websites) is a great resource for Irish research, boasting a huge collection of Irish census, vital and tax records. And, even better, Findmypast has announced a Catholic Heritage Collection that will include Catholic records from cities like New York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati—a huge boon to a fifth-generation Cincinnatian like me. The only problem? I haven’t used Findmypast very much, and I’m not sure where to start.

Fortunately, genealogy website expert Sunny Morton can help. She’s presenting “Mastering Findmypast” at the Virtual Conference, where she’ll share key strategies for finding records on the site. She’ll also highlight some of the site’s most useful records collections.

Investigate LivingDNA

Speaking of my Irish ancestors: My DNA results show an unexpectedly high percentage of UK and Irish DNA (27 percent Great Britain and 15 percent Irish on AncestryDNA, and 32.5 percent British and Irish on 23andMe). I have always thought of myself as mostly German, so these high values from the United Kingdom came as a bit of a surprise to me. Do I need to shift my focus even more to the British Isles?

With that question in mind, I’ve given a lot of thought to LivingDNA. The testing service offers an ethnicity estimate that includes more than 20 reference populations just in the United Kingdom. This makes it a great pick for people like me who have British and Irish roots and want more insight on where, specifically, they come from. LivingDNA’s test is also a three-for-one: one analysis that covers autosomal DNA, Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA.

But do I really need to test with another site? DNAeXplained founder Roberta Estes will outline the case for LivingDNA in a presentation during the Virtual Conference that will cover the basics of the site and the pros and cons of testing there. I’m also looking forward to two other Virtual Conference sessions that will help me plan out my DNA strategy: “The Science Behind DNA” and “Using Technology and DNA to Find Family History.”

Virtually time-travel

A couple years ago, I made an intriguing discovery when flipping through a 1940 census record. My grandfather grew up just a few streets away from the house I lived in during college. He died before I was born, so I never had a chance to know him—but now we both have a connection to this neighborhood. What are the odds? I know what the neighborhood is like today, but I wanted to see the town as he would have seen it 80 years ago.

Sanborn maps, detailed diagrams of homes and communities, could provide a great snapshot of this community during my grandfather’s youth. And Genealogy Gems guru Lisa Louise Cooke’s presentation on applying Sanborn maps to research will set me up for success. In it, she’ll walk attendees through real-life uses of Sanborn maps, the most consistently kept kind of map records. If I could find one for my grandfather’s neighborhood during his lifetime, I could start envisioning what the community was like back in time.

Have your own research problems you need some help solving? Sign up for the Spring 2018 Virtual Conference. Our experts will also be answering your questions live during the conference—learn how to submit your questions here.